• E. Rachael Hardcastle

A Love of Reading?

Keeping a busy schedule has, for sure, impacted my love of reading. In my teens, I'd read an entire series of books—six or seven minimum—in a week, chain reading faster than I could order the next volume. I remember reading the Charlaine Harris* Sookie Stackhouse novels (Trueblood) in my bedroom and texting a friend as she read alongside me, hoping to beat her to the next big reveal. More on Charlaine Harris later...

I still read every day at work and I'm privileged to enjoy some amazing indie fiction, which I then go on to publish through Curious Cat Books (or edit/format etc depending on the author's needs), but as a hobby and in my leisure time, I've steered away from thick fiction novels (particularly hardbacks or a lengthy series). And recently, I've found myself reaching for graphic novels or comic books, which until now, never appealed to me.

It's not difficult to figure out why, either. It's harder to find time to relax with a good novel these days, or muster the attention required for a complex high fantasy trilogy. But I wanted to rekindle my love of reading somehow. Something short, colourful and entertaining was the perfect stepping stone from not reading at all to finding that passion once again. I figured just picking up a magazine would be better than nothing, right? Because most of the books I wanted to read I'd already read, why (I thought) would I risk buying and hating something new when the familiar stories were right there on my shelf? I often return to old favourites rather than checking out the latest bestsellers—for example, Mitch Albom's moving visionary novels, Charlaine Harris's vampire books, and Charlie Higson's The Enemy YA zombie series. I was stuck!

Lindsey Stirling's Artemis (6 Comic Collection)

But then, as many of my readers know, I'm a big Lindsey Stirling fan. You can see from the photo I have her autobiography The Only Pirate At The Party and a signed album insert from Artemis. This album also saw the release of six brilliant comic books (the story of the album), and I wanted to check those out having never read anything like them. Inside, there are QR codes you can scan to listen to the album, which is really cool. Needless to say, I was addicted! I'm now the proud owner of all six volumes (one of which is signed!). So began my sickness...

Following the purchase of Artemis one to three (the others came later), I decided to only purchase stories I was familiar with or really took my fancy. Of course, The Walking Dead is a TV series I've enjoyed for years, but I'd never read the comics they were based on. So, I found the first compendium on Facebook marketplace and devoured it, then went on to buy two and three. I still need four to complete my collection. The compendiums are entertaining and easy to read (plus, they are great value for money), but gosh are they heavy!

The Walking Dead 1-3, Bob's Burgers, Marvel's Once Upon A Time 1-2 and Grave Sight.

I took to buying pre-owned comic books just in case they weren't to my taste, and I picked up the Bob's Burgers comic from Dynamite including volumes one to five from an online retailer. I love the TV show, so this was a must have (though yes, it's silly!). But it's super easy and quick to read, and it makes me smile. Also, from the photo, you'll see I managed to collect all three Grave Sight books by Charlaine Harris (graphic novels from Dynamite based on the series). I'm yet to read these as I write this, but the covers are intense!

After collecting those, I decided to search for other comic books based on shows or books I've loved in the past. Once Upon A Time is one of my favourites, so I bought both in hardback from a lovely lady on Facebook marketplace. You can get anything on Facebook! Out of the Past and Shadow of the Queen by Marvel are both well-loved and highly recommended if you enjoy the TV show or, like me, write fantasy, but the hardback binding does make them more difficult to read if you're afraid to crack the spine.

As I gathered those above, I also noticed someone selling a full collection of the Trueblood comics, as seen in the photo gallery. There are six comics in each 'series' and three series in total—Trueblood, Tainted Love & the French Quarter—which made a whopping eighteen books up for grabs. I couldn't say no, and purchased the lot (many of them still in protective sleeves). The previous owner had clearly cared for them because when they arrived, they were practically new! There was still one final comic in the Trueblood collection I needed, and this was the first ever comic book, 'The Great Revelation', to be released. It acted as a teaser for the TV show starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. What would we do without Ebay?

Finally, throughout the above, I fell in love with the Battle Royale manga series; these are read backwards, which to those of us in the UK is right to left instead of left to right and much harder to get your head around than you'd think! It took some Googling to figure out how to enjoy these, and initially I only purchased perhaps books one to five from a guy on Facebook to try. Despite the odd edition having a discoloured bullet (see no. two as an example), they were in perfect condition.

When I initially purchased the books, I had no idea how hard they were to come by, and expensive, especially in the later volumes. They are out of print and difficult to get in the UK when you hit books eight/nine onwards. It has taken quite a few months, but I've found almost all of them one way or another, and now need only two to complete the series. I've already read the book and seen the movies, so I knew immediately I would enjoy these graphic novels. They are most certainly aimed at older teenagers and adults due to the content, though!

Those I currently own (except the huge Walking Dead compendiums and Battle Royale) are in comic protective sleeves (thank you, Amazon!). And there are extras in the pack waiting for my next exciting purchase. This concludes my collection so far, but I'll be on the look out for other comics, graphic novels and manga I can enjoy until my hunger for longer fiction returns.

If there's a comic you love, please get in touch to recommend your favourites! Want to see any of my other books? Let me know if you'd be interested in checking out my bookshelf tour for an up-to-date view of what I'm reading and why. It's random!

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